Category Archives: Morning tease

The Monday Morning Teaser

I’m still in Arizona, so everything is running a little later than usual. The featured post this week will continue the 2016 Stump Speeches series, focusing this week on Rand Paul’s announcement speech. (Yesterday, Hillary also said she’s running; maybe I’ll get to her next week.) Figure that to come out around 10 or 11 eastern time.

The weekly summary will include the Walter Scott shooting, some 150th-anniversary articles about the end of the Civil War that make similar points to my “Not a Tea Party, a Confederate Party“, and two mini book reviews, before closing with Mary Poppins’ plea for a higher minimum wage. Expect that around noon or so.

The Monday Morning Teaser

Last week I finally had to recognize that the 2016 campaign had started. This week I begin covering it. I plan to do a series where I look at the stump speeches of all the major candidates, because I’ve learned in past campaigns that often they’re saying something different from what is being covered in the mainstream press.

So this week I need two featured posts: one to explain what the series is and the other to get it started by examining Ted Cruz announcement speech at Liberty University. They’re both more-or-less done, so they should be out shortly.

In the weekly summary, there’s still the “religious freedom” controversy, which I’ll catch up on and explain how I think the law ought to balance the competing values involved (as it seems to be doing in Colorado). But the more important development of the week was the announcement of the framework of a nuclear deal with Iran. And there was a massacre in Africa. I’ll close with a stand-up routine by Trevor Noah, who has been named as the next host of The Daily Show.

I’m writing from Arizona rather than my usual New Hampshire, so the usual schedule may slip a little. In the Eastern time zone, the weekly summary may not appear until afternoon.

The Monday Morning Teaser

I’ve been wondering when to start talking about 2016. Lots of pundits started before all the 2014 votes were counted, which seemed a little early to me. But Ted Cruz has officially announced his candidacy, and other unannounced candidates are finding reasons to meet with voters here in New Hampshire, so I guess it’s on.

With Elizabeth Warren still insisting she won’t run, I’m still not seeing any Democratic threat to Hillary. But I’m not buying the Jeb-is-inevitable talk on the Republican side, so I expect some fireworks there. I can’t predict who will prevail — maybe Jeb, maybe not — but I can describe a little about how the decision process will play out, building on the model of the GOP I constructed for the 2012 campaign in “The Four Flavors of Republican“. I’ll lay that out in this week’s featured post “2016: Understanding the Republican Process”, which should be out around nine or so.

The weekly summary discusses (what else?) Indiana’s new right-to-discriminate law, which as far as I can see has nothing to do with religious freedom. I make fun of CNN’s ghoulish 24/7 coverage of yet another air disaster and Fox’s nearly-as-total focus on Bowe Bergdahl. Meanwhile, Yemen has a civil war nobody can win; ObamaCare turns five; Harry Reid announces his retirement; and an inattentive Celtics fan loses his girlfriend to the Bulls mascot.

The Monday Morning Teaser

For the last six months or so, my background reading project has been about the disturbing below-American-radar changes that have been happening in Israel during the last few decades. In my files I have a long shapeless “Israel’s Identity Crisis” article that is far from ready for public consumption. But I was able to pull together some of those thoughts this week to discuss the significance for myself and for Americans in general of how Prime Minister Netanyahu’s turn-to-the-dark-side saved his political career. He trashed Obama, the peace process, and Israel’s Arab citizens — and the voters loved it.

I’m still debating on the title, which currently is “What Just Happened?”. This is the kind of article where every sentence has to be phrased just right, so even though it seems complete I probably won’t get it out until 9 or 10.

The weekly summary will probably be later than usual, maybe noon or one.

The Monday Morning Teaser

For a current-events blog, The Weekly Sift focuses an unusual amount of its attention on the past. That’s because I believe American history is often mistold and misunderstood, leaving most Americans with a false image of who we are and where our current problems come from.

This is especially true with regard to race, slavery, and the Civil War. Three of the Sift’s most popular posts retell the post-Civil-War history of America: “Not a Tea Party, a Confederate Party“, “A Short History of White Racism in the Two-Party System“, and “Slavery Lasted Until Pearl Harbor“.
 This week I push back into the pre-Civil-War period with a review of Edward Baptist’s recent book The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism.

In the usual high-school U.S. history class, slavery is what Alfred Hitchcock used to call a MacGuffin: something for the characters to compete over that has no real significance otherwise. (The Maltese Falcon, for example). From the Constitutional Convention to the Civil War, white politicians come up with all kinds of plots to increase or diminish slavery, but what the slaves actually do is only discussed in sidebars, if at all. So, for example, “Dred Scott” is a story about the Supreme Court, not about Dred Scott. Even abolitionism is mainly the story of William Lloyd Garrison and Harriet Beecher Stowe, with African Americans making only cameo appearances.

Baptist turns all that upside-down, and tells the Washington-to-Lincoln history of America as the story of slaves and their enslavers: How the work of slaves built the wealth of America, and how the battle to control those slaves and that wealth structured America. Telling the story that way, it turns out, connects all kinds of episodes that seem like a random list of stuff-that-happened in the usual telling.

I figure to have that post out by nine. The weekly summary (let’s say around 11) will talk about the Republican senators’ letter to Iran; the resignations, protests, and shootings that resulted from the Justice Department’s report on Ferguson; the racist-frat flap at University of Oklahoma; and a few other things, including the death of Terry Pratchett.

The Monday Morning Teaser

The featured article this week is about Ferguson. The feds released two reports based on their investigations — one about the Michael Brown shooting and another about the general state of policing in Ferguson. The short version: Darren Wilson gets off but the FPD doesn’t.

My conclusion after reading both is that overall this is a good ending to a tragic story. The point of the Ferguson protests was never just the Brown shooting; the Brown shooting was supposed to be an egregious example of a larger problem.

In the weekly summary: The Selma anniversary. Was Netanyahu right about Iran? New hope in the ObamaCare case before the Supreme Court. And some dogs in very deep snow.

I’m still on the road and my internet connection is acting flaky this morning, so I hesitate to make predictions about when either post will appear.

The Monday Morning Teaser

This week the clown show was back in town: Friday, Republicans in the House came within hours of shutting down the Homeland Security Department, and managed to pass only a one-week funding bill. So this week they can play the same game of chicken all over again.

That’s why today’s featured article will be “The Myth of Republican Governance”. Every time the Republicans get more power — first the House, then the Senate — we hear how now they’re going to have to get serious and prove to the voters that they can govern responsibly.

They haven’t and they won’t. Government dysfunction is actually a strategy now, and until we understand that, we’re going to keep trying to live in a bygone era. “Can’t make me!” the bratty little kid says, and in this case he might be right.

The weekly summary will also cover the net neutrality win, Obama’s Keystone Pipeline veto, Bill O’Reilly’s troubles, and the “problem of good” that right-wing Christians have discovered, before closing with a hilarious Jim Jefferies routine about gun control.

As for when these posts will appear, I make no promises. I still have a lot of supporting links to find for the featured post, and posting from the road (I’m in Savannah, on my way to Florida) is always a little unpredictable. Be patient.


The Monday Morning Teaser

The recent Atlantic article “What ISIS Really Wants” has that unique trait that makes an article worth discussing at length: It combines deep insight with deep flaws. It taught me a lot about how end-times prophesy and the Caliphate’s role in ISIS’s interpretation of Sharia figure in the Islamic State’s appeal. But the article wraps those lessons inside an orientalist view of Islam, in which re-creating the 7th century is the only way to be “serious” about the religion.

It would be a shame if readers either ignored the article or swallowed it whole. But fortunately, its insights into the Islamic State are completely separable from its stereotypes about Islam. I guess that’s what a sift is for.

Look for that article — I’m still futzing with the title, but it will have “Islamic State” in it somewhere — around 10 EST.

The summary will go on to discuss whether President Obama loves America (isn’t that the issue we really need to be talking about?), whether conservatism can learn from its mistakes, and Netanyahu’s upcoming speech to Congress, before closing with a sex fantasy that a feminist cartoonist prefers to 50 Shades of Grey.

The Monday Morning Teaser

This week I spent some time looking around on the anti-gay-marriage Facebook page Marriage Conservation to see what kinds of arguments motivate the people who seemed most thoughtful and reasonable (i.e., not the ones who express a blind hatred for all things gay). My response to those arguments will be in “When Hate Stays in the Closet”, which I think will be out around 8 EST.

I don’t know if this post will convince anyone, but I hope it will at least explain why the rest of us don’t find these points as obvious and compelling as the “marriage conservationists” do. (Feel free to forward it to that aunt or cousin who keeps sending you anti-gay stuff.)

The weekly summary will discuss President Obama’s proposed Congressional authorization for the war against ISIL, Brian Williams, Jon Stewart, the Chapel Hill murders, and a few other things, before closing with a short video demonstrating how to make a clarinet out of a carrot. (Hard to believe Bugs Bunny never thought of that.)

The Monday Morning Teaser

This week was a lesson in the unpredictability of presidential campaigns. Who knew Republican candidates would be talking about the measles vaccine? Maybe next week they’ll argue about whether cities should have fire departments or some other issue no one is thinking about now. (BTW: This has been an example of why I haven’t been taking Rand Paul’s candidacy seriously: He has never figured out how to downplay his loonier views, so if he ever becomes the focus of the campaign, the other candidates will maneuver him into spending a week talking about eliminating public schools or something.)

If you’ve been listening to the vaccination debate and wondering “Why are we talking about this?”, this week’s featured article will take it back to its roots in “The Individual and the Herd”. It should be out by 9 EST.

The weekly summary will say more about the measles outbreak, then talk about the wonderful talk President Obama gave at the National Prayer Breakfast — and the fevered response to the two lines in which he pointed out that Christianity is open to abuse just like Islam is.

I’ll also mention some of the minor matters that got lost in all the sturm und drang about measles and the Crusades, like next year’s federal budget, and state budgets whose main purpose is to promote the governor’s shot at the Republican presidential nomination.

The summary will close with a very creative smash-up that turns the Coen brothers’ movies into one big conversation. Expect that by noon.

And in case you’re wondering: It’s still snowing. If Shakespeare had set “Twelfth Night” in New England, Feste would sing, “The snow, it snoweth every day.”


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